Image: DALL-E 3, prompted by MIXED
VR headsets, AR headsets, and all things mixed reality: what new hardware can you look forward to this year? Our roundup lets you know.
Compared to 2023, 2024 is likely to be a bit less extensive in terms of new VR headsets. Some possible releases are still unconfirmed, many are just rumors. Apple’s entry into the market will be exciting – and the question is whether it will change anything.
However, AR headsets could also be interesting this year, at least if Meta presents its first, unaffordable prototype of real AR glasses. CTO Bosworth said: “It’s probably our most exciting prototype that we’ve had to date. […] I think it might be the most advanced piece of technology on the planet in its domain. In the domain of consumer electronics, it might be the most advanced thing that we’ve ever produced as a species.”
Confirmed VR/AR headsets
Apple Vision Pro
Vision Pro is the first VR/AR headset from Apple. It features dual micro-OLED displays that deliver over 4K resolution per eye and support High Dynamic Range. Powered by Apple’s M2 processor and a custom R1 chip, the Vision Pro runs on the VisionOS operating system. The headset incorporates a suite of cameras and sensors for precise hand and eye tracking, as well as real-time 3D mapping of the environment. It is controlled by a mix of hand and eye tracking and voice commands. The design resembles slim ski goggles with a specially designed headband and face mask. As a daily companion for home and work, it will cost $3,499.
Production of the Vision Pro is said to be in full swing. The mixed reality headset is currently scheduled to hit the US market in February, barring any unforeseen issues.
When the Vision Pro will be released in other countries is still up in the air.
The Immersed Visor is a VR headset designed specifically for productive use and is expected to be released in 2024. It offers high-end specifications such as 4K resolution per eye, eye tracking, and wireless PC VR capabilities. It is also equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 that supports standalone mode. Despite these impressive specifications, the price of the Immersed Visor is surprisingly low at $950.
The VR headset is manufactured by a company best known for developing the Immersed virtual desktop application. To secure funding for the VR glasses project, the company is planning to go public. Partnerships with Qualcomm and Intel have also been announced, and an unnamed “tech giant” is expected to help with production. The company has also filed for patents.
There is no specific release date for the Immersed Visor, but the company expects it to be released in 2024. Our author Alan analyzed the available information.
Unconfirmed VR/AR headsets
Quest 3 Lite
There are rumors about the possible launch of a Meta Quest 3 Lite in the first half of 2024. This new device is said to be quite similar to the Quest 3, but with less expensive components to save costs. It could even be released without a VR controller.
The Quest 3 Lite could be available with different storage options, including 64 GB models for $199, 128 GB for $299, and 256 GB56 for $399. Technically, Meta may return to Fresnel lenses and monochrome pass-through for the Quest 3 Lite, as seen in the Quest 2, to keep manufacturing costs down. Unlike the Quest 3, the Quest 3 Lite could come without a depth sensor. An upgrade to the more powerful chipset of the Quest 3 should be included in any case. Another possibility is that Meta will sell the VR controller as an optional accessory.
This information is based on rumors. It remains to be seen what features the final version of the Quest 3 Lite will have and whether the possible step backwards in terms of mixed reality and the at least strange idea of delivering without VR controller will really happen.
Quest Pro 2
Code has been found in the Quest kernel indicating a new high-resolution VR headset. This could be a Quest Pro 2. The code describes a headset with a resolution of 2,392 × 2,560 pixels per eye, LC displays and a frame rate of 90 Hz. The resolutions of the Quest Pro and Quest 3 were leaked similarly before the official announcement.
However, it is unclear whether the code refers to a prototype or an actual planned product. Meta is known for developing multiple prototypes of upcoming products in parallel. If it is a planned VR headset, a Quest Pro 2 would be the most likely. Meta may be planning to improve the commercially unsuccessful Quest Pro model.
In the context of VR market development, Meta could use the Quest Pro 2 to try to keep competitors like Samsung and Google at bay, who plan to launch an XR headset in late 2024.
Samsung’s VR/AR headset “Infinite”
Samsung and Google are working on a mixed reality headset to be released in late 2024. Samsung will be responsible for design and manufacturing, Google for operating system and software development, and Qualcomm for the chipset. Samsung Display will provide the OLED microdisplay.
The headset, code-named “Infinite”, is expected to be unveiled at Galaxy Unpacked in the second half of 2024 and launched in December 2024. However, the first production run will only be 30,000 units.
Both Samsung and Google have tried to get into VR technology in the past, but quickly abandoned those efforts. Their current efforts appear to be driven by concerns about being left behind by Apple in a new, potentially promising product category.
Pico 4: Improved version
Last year, ByteDance let the air out of its Pico VR division. Mass layoffs, discontinued applications and even a Pico 5 (although it is questionable whether the concept ever really existed) were scrapped. However, Bytedance boss Zhou does not want to shut down the business completely: there are plans for an improved version of the Pico 4 – but no details are known yet. Bytedance also wants to compete with Apple with extremely reduced resources.
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